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Jewish Leadership in Lithuanian Ghettos

International Conference Hosted by Yad Vashem's Mirilashvili Center

18 November 2018

On Sunday, 19 November 2018, Yad Vashem's Moshe Mirilashvili Center for Research of the Holocaust in the Soviet Union will host an international conference on Jewish Leadership in Lithuanian Ghettos." Leading scholars of the Holocaust in the areas of the occupied Soviet Union, specifically Lithuania, will tackle an often overlooked aspect of the Shoah: the relations between different groups of Jews living under untenable conditions in the Lithuanian ghettos. Discussions will focus on the activity of Jewish intellectuals, heads of Jewish councils and Jewish police, as well as ordinary Jews. Hailing from Israel, the United States, Switzerland and Lithuania, conference participants will explore the attitudes of all of these groups to the problems and moral dilemmas they faced on a daily basis.

Arkadi Zeltser, Director of the Mirilashvili Center at Yad Vashem's International Institute for Holocaust Research, and Institute Head Prof. Dan Michman, Incumbent of the John Najmann Chair for Holocaust Studies, will offer opening remarks.


Prof. Christoph Dieckmann (University of Bern) will give the keynote address, entitled “Jewish Perspectives during the Shoah in Lithuania, 1941-1944: Context, Experiences and Expectations." At the first session, chaired by Director of the Yad Vashem Libraries Dr. Robert Rozett, former Yad Vashem Chairman Yitzhak Arad will speak on "Moral Issues between the Jewish Councils and the Public," and David E. Fishman will address the audience on the topic "The Intellectual Leadership of the Vilna Ghetto and the Rescue of Jewish Cultural Treasures."

In the afternoon, independent scholar Ben-Tsiyon Klibansky will chair the second session, with speakers including: Arunas Bubnys – "The Vilno Ghetto's Administration: In the Light of Lithuanian Archives"; Neringa Latvyte-Gustaitiene – "The (Un)Known Side of the Soderkommando"; and Vadim Altskan –"Choiceless Choice: The Jewish Council in the Siaulai Ghetto."

Dr. Sharon Kangisser-Cohen, Director of the Research Institute's Diana and Eli Zborowski Center for the Study of the Aftermath of the Holocaust will chair the final session. Guest speakers include: Prof. Dalia Ofer (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), who will talk on "At a Crossroad: The Jewish Police in Kovno Ghetto"; and Yad Vashem Researcher Dr. Lea Prais, who will present "Beyond the Solid Image: The Kovno Ghetto, the Altestenrat and the Other Voices."


The conference sessions will be held in English, Hebrew and Russian, with simultaneous translation.

"New approaches of research in this area based on testimony of Jews themselves and on Lithuanian and German official sources from various archives will be presented at the conference for the first time," explains Dr. Zeltser. "Delving into this new research allows us to gain a better understanding of what the Jewish leadership faced, and the decisions they made, in the various Lithuanian ghettos."


To attend this conference please contact the Communications Division at media.relations@yadvashem.org.il


About the Moshe Mirilashvili Center:

The Moshe Mirilashvili Center for Research on the Holocaust in the Soviet Union opened in May 2016. The Center leads groundbreaking global academic discourse on the Nazi-led persecution and slaughter of Jews in Soviet-controlled territories during WWII; strengthens ties with relevant researchers and organizations; encourages international scholarly cooperation; and advances pioneering research in all related areas through new research projects, publications and testimonies, workshops, seminars and conferences for senior and young scholars alike.